Real estate sales remain strong during pandemic

Jeremy Youngquist and Duane Johnson.

Michael Henderson, the managing broker of Duane Johnson Real Estate in Cannon Beach, says real estate trends have shifted due to the pandemic - but his office has seen a high volume of interested buyers connecting with the local real estate agents.

“Our volume of business is up, which is a surprise to all of us,” he said in an interview in Cannon Beach.

“Interest rates are low, banks are making loans, which pushes qualified buyers off the fence, activity has been high from the buyer’s side.”

This interest in small beach towns is a trend that is coming from all age groups. Henderson said he is seeing inquiries from people in their 30s to the 70s and early 80s, all interested in the same thing.

This trend during a pandemic is due to many people wanting to get away from the big city and away from the crowds to a safer environment, he said. “People are concerned for their safety,” said Jeremy Youngquist, a broker with the Duane Johnson firm who serves as its marketing manager.

“All of this is playing into the trends where they want a nice home at the beach. They know it’s clean, they know it’s safe.

“For Cannon Beach and Arch Cape real estate, that bodes well… (L)et’s invest in a vacation home, not (just) a vacation.”

Operating a successful real estate company has changed a bit during the pandemic, said the Duane Johnson brokers. That said, some of the practices they’re currently using to show homes had been in place for some time.

For example, said Henderson, someone in Seattle wants to see a few homes, so a broker in Cannon Beach can FaceTime a property or create a video, zip it up and send it to a client. That part has not changed solely as a result of the COVID-19 issues.

What has changed, according to Duane Johnson, is the live showing itself. “We have to go in prior to a showing and disinfect everything. We travel in separate cars and follow social distancing guidelines.

“After we are done showing the home, we have to go back in and disinfect things a second time,” he said. “We have to keep our hands in our pockets.

“It’s a whole different ballgame. And I’m surprised by the volume of business during the pandemic.”  

As for the transaction, with DocuSign everything can be done over the computer, except when the time comes to have the signatures notarized.  

“Title companies have cut back staffing to take precautions, “Johnson said. “(The real estate) closing may take a little longer, but I believe that will eventually get back to normal.”

Meantime, Henderson said he’s a numbers guy. He said sale prices are up by 2.6% in Clatsop County, while in Cannon Beach sale prices are up 3.9% from the same time last year.

“A lot of buyers in late March and early April used the (Covid) situation as an opportunity to come in and make lower offers,” Henderson said. “We currently have 22 residential listings on the market in Cannon Beach and with the steady interest in our area, it’s a great time to list your property.”

According to figures provided by the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS), a listing would be on the market an average of 156 days before being sold in Clatsop County.

According to Henderson, 125 real estate deals were closed in April 2019. This year, 93 deals were closed in Clatsop County and 15 of those were in Cannon Beach.

“We have a very resilient market in Cannon Beach, even in a downturn like those of ’06 and ’08,“ Henderson added. “It’s not normal or status quo, but neither is a pandemic.”

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